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Masters champ Matsuyama pulls out of Texas Open with neck injury

(AFP)

Japan’s Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama withdrew from the US PGA Tour Texas Open on Friday with a neck injury less than a week before he was set to launch his title defense at Augusta National.

Matsuyama, who withdrew from the Players Championship in March with back trouble, carded a two-over par first round at TPC San Antonio on Thursday. The 30-year-old was one-over for the tournament when he pulled out after nine holes on Friday.

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Matsuyama, ranked 12th in the world, won the Zozo Championship in October and the Sony Open in January, but he hasn’t completed a tournament since a tie for 20th at the Arnold Palmer Invitational in early March.

Matsuyama became the first Japanese man to win a major and the first Asian-born golfer to win the Green Jacket when he triumphed at Augusta National last year.

He said in March that various physical troubles had prevented him from practicing as much as he would like in the build-up to his title defense.

“I’ll do my best to prepare well so I can defend my title at Augusta,” he said in a conference call. “What I have been doing, I feel like I’m on the right track. Hopefully, I can find that same form that I started the year out with.”

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